“Being on a massage table is a wonderful place to be for a
person with Multiple Sclerosis (MS),” said Denali Walden, a massage therapist
in Olympia, WA.
And Walden knows what she is talking about. She graduated
from massage therapy school with an emphasis on medical and injury treatment
techniques. She has continued her education in modalities related to MS and
volunteered for four years in a program that provided massages to cancer patients
and their caregivers.
Walden spoke to the MS/cancer conference call in February
about massage therapy for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Massage therapy can help a person with MS in many ways. It
can help relax muscles, enhance range of motion and may ease pain as it can
reduce swelling. Massages can increase blood flow and may be helpful in
preventing pressure sores. A person should not get a massage if he or she has
pressure sores or red areas on the skin.
“Massage can give a person with MS a chance to relax,”
Walden said. “Getting touched during a massage is different from a therapeutic
touch caregivers do when moving your body. One of the greatest benefits of
getting a massage is to have a caring connection to your body.”
People who have massages may have an increased sense of well-being
and may sleep better.
Walden recommends MS and/or cancer patients to check with
their physician before getting a massage.
MS and Cancer
For a person with MS and cancer, massage therapy in some
instances can be contraindicated. For example, depending on the cancer, a
person may have localized areas that should not be worked on. “You do not want
to break up a mass or spread cells,” Walden said.
In these circumstances, MS and cancer patients may benefit
from a scalp or foot massage. “Even a modified massage can make a difference,”
Be your own advocate
Walden recommends that when people with MS and/or cancer meet
with a massage therapist, they should express their concerns and questions and
to be their own advocates.
“You know your body better than anyone,” Walden said.
“Always have a voice for your body. Tell where you don’t want to be touched,
where you are sensitive and why.”
People can ask their doctors and oncology nurses for a
message therapist referral. Go to the American Massage Therapy Association
website at www.amtamassage.org for